Political Notebook


Ritz gets A for consistency

Sees emailing of grade report as violation of law

After another marathon all-day meeting of the group creating a new A-F school grading model, the panel was ready to vote Monday evening.

The problem was the members of the group didn’t have a final version of the report they would approve in front of them.

They had made dozens of changes to a draft during the day. The members had tossed definitions back and forth, creating new language and tweaking others.

So the question was – did the group want to wait to see the final compiled report by Legislative Services Agency before voting? That would mean staying several more hours or coming back another day.

And the report was due by Friday.

One member asked whether the final report could be emailed around for review.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz quashed that idea – pointing out the recommendations/report had to be approved in an open meeting.

After all, she has a pending lawsuit against the State Board of Education for emailing around a letter to be sent by the board asking for legislative intervention in calculating A-F grades.

Ritz contends that letter counts as the board taking “official action” outside a public meeting.

A judge will have a hearing on the suit Tuesday.

Downright cheap

Fort Wayne residents are relative penny-pinchers when it comes to giving money to federal election candidates.

Per-capita contributions from Allen County residents amounted to $4.72 in the 2012 presidential and congressional races, good for 18th among Indiana’s 92 counties, according to a study by the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation.

The number was a far cry from Hamilton County’s $24.50 and Boone County’s $17.61 and less than half the per-capita figures in Vanderburgh and Marion counties.

The Sunlight Foundation, a Washington group that advocates government transparency, said the highest per-capita donation in northeast Indiana was $6.45 in Kosciusko County. The lowest was Wells County’s $1.41.

The Sunlight Foundation and Azavea Atlas crunched every U.S. county’s political contributions to federal races going back to 1990 and mapped them.

Available at sunlightfoundation.com/blog, the categories include total contributions, per-capita giving, third-party presidential contributions and presidential contribution share by major political party.

In total contributions, Allen County’s $1.7 million trailed the sums of five Hoosier counties. Marion County was first, with $8.7 million, followed in order by Hamilton, Lake, Vanderburgh and St. Joseph.

Nearly 78 percent of Allen County contributions to presidential candidates in 2012 went to Republicans, among the lowest such rates in northeast Indiana. More than 94 percent of Huntington County’s donations for presidential candidates went to Republicans, as did more than 93 percent of Kosciusko County’s.

Democratic strongholds in Indiana were in the south. Residents of Jefferson, Monroe, Brown and Orange counties gave between 71.8.percent and 79.3.percent of their presidential campaign donations to President Barack Obama, and all of the $500 that Ohio County residents ponied up went to Obama.

Lugar’s medal

Former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana will be presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama on Nov. 20, the White House has announced.

Lugar is among 16 recipients of the nation’s highest civilian honor. This year’s recipients were announced Aug. 8 and include former President Bill Clinton, media magnate Oprah Winfrey, country music singer Loretta Lynn, baseball great Ernie Banks and former University of North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith.

The White House said details on the ceremony will be announced later.

Lugar, a Republican from Indianapolis, was in the Senate for 36 years, where he became a leader on foreign policy. He and former Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia wrote 1991 legislation that has dismantled thousands of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons in the former Soviet Union.


As Fort Wayne City Council members prepared to vote on the city’s 2014 budget Oct. 22, City Clerk Sandy Kennedy warned them that the Indiana Department of Local Government – which must approve municipal budgets – had changed the forms and there were now more complicated directions for filling them out correctly.

The forms had to be done right, because the city was at the deadline for approving the budget.

Thankfully, Council President Tom Didier, R-3rd, rose to the occasion with all the decorum the moment required.

“We’ll give it our official ‘okey-dokey,’ ” he quipped.

Dan Stockman of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.

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